On stage, The Lique is one of the most fun and energetic acts in the city. The hip-hop/jazz/funk quintet isn’t afraid to be themselves—they goof off, make the crowd do silly dance moves and go way over the top with with some of their performances. It’s one of two reasons why we named them the Best Band in last year’s Best of the City awards. The other is that beneath the boisterous live antics are poignant messages.
The title of their 2016 debut album, Democracy Manifest, wasn’t meant to be subtle. It’s lyrically dense, loaded with biting criticisms of our nation and society. The album’s title track—tweaked to “Democrashy Manifesht” to mimic a quote from this bizarre YouTube clip of a serial dine-and-dasher being arrested in Australia (there goes The Lique’s humor again)—is its heaviest. MC Rasar addresses revisionist history, rapping lines like, My bloodline doesn’t allow me to be the president. Even if it did I’d be leading a sinking ship / Titanic tragedies beneath the punchline of politics.
Now, the band shares what they call a “visual single” for the song. “It’s a cinematic visual experience that embodies the song, instead of just randomly doing things while the music plays, and we want to turn heads ‘back and to the left’,” Rasar says.
The visuals are indeed striking. Dark and powerful, the video reenacts the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X. It isn’t for shock value.
“Each of these assassinations represent the slow death of The American Dream,” Rasar explains. “The calculated murders of JFK, MLK, & Malcolm X changed the shape of not only America, but world history in innumerable ways that add much needed context to how we got to where we are today as a society. All three of these assassinations are surrounded in complex plots that make it difficult to trust the official stories, especially JFK and MLK. This healthy distrust of questionable history makes it difficult to have faith in a system that very much appears to turn any serious challenger into collateral damage for the sake of larger agendas.
“Something important to remember is that although Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are still juxtaposed as beacons of peace and violence, the result is the same—they were murdered for speaking up and standing up for what they believed in. JFK being murdered in broad daylight is seen by many as a retaliation for his efforts to clean up Washington in many ways that would undermine the establishment. The song and visual show that no matter how people have tried to make changes in what is obviously a threatening environment for the disenfranchised, their leaders can and will be lethally silenced when they get too close to the truth for too long. That is what our ‘democracy’ has not just become recently, but has been for some time.”
Watch the Tyler Stefanelli-directed visual above.